A's Look To Avoid Sweep

Oakland starter Dan Haren pitched well enough in the first half of the season to earn a start in the All-Star game. The Athletics are hoping that he's carried that momentum into the second half. 

Haren looks to help the A's avoid a four-game sweep and shake their longest losing streak of the season when the teams wrap up their series on Sunday at the Metrodome.

The Athletics (44-47) dropped their last three games of the first half and their first three of the second for their longest losing streak since a seven-game slide May 20-26, 2006. They lost 4-3 to the Twins (48-43) on Saturday, falling a season-worst three games under .500.

Oakland hasn't been swept in four games in Minnesota since July 17-20, 2003.

Oddsmakers have made Oakland -125 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 87% of bets for this game have been placed on Oakland -125 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

"Tomorrow's a new day. You don't know what is going to happen," center fielder Mark Kotsay told Oakland's official team Web site. "When you are in a funk, (Haren) can turn things around."

Haren (10-3, 2.30 ERA) owns the best ERA in the AL and had won 10 straight decisions before taking a 7-1 loss against Seattle in his last outing of the first half on July 6. The loss was the first since April 7 for Haren, who gave up four runs in 6 1-3 innings.

He got the start in Tuesday's All-Star game and gave up one run in two innings.

"It was an unbelievable experience, (but) I had the jitters all day," Haren said.

Haren has allowed three runs in each of his last five starts after giving up that many in three of his first 14, raising his ERA from 1.58. Still, the A's feel good about their chances with him on the mound.

"When Dan's on the mound, you don't need as many runs to win," manager Bob Geren told Oakland's site.

Haren is 2-2 with a 2.50 ERA in five career starts against the Twins and did not allow a run in 14 innings in his last two starts against them last season.

Along with a strong start from their ace, the A's are also hoping for a better day at the plate. They have scored three or fewer runs in nine straight games for the first time since Sept. 10-17, 1978, and are batting just .155 during their losing streak.

"It's frustrating, it really is," said Nick Swisher, who is hitting just 1-for-10 in this series. "But sometimes these things happen."

The Twins, meanwhile, have scored 15 runs in the series while their starters have given up only five runs in 19 2-3 innings. Carlos Silva allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings to earn Saturday's win.

"We're just trying to plug away," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' site. "The guys were screaming in the dugout, 'You know, we win the ballgame, we win the series.' Now we have the chance to take it a step further and get off to a super start in the second half."

Boof Bonser (5-6, 4.70) will try to give Minnesota another solid start in the finale. He lost his last three starts and final four decisions in the first half but went a career high-tying seven innings in his final outing before the break on July 7, giving up three runs in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

"Boof's come a long way," catcher Mike Redmond told the Twins' site. "Today was a great effort."

Bonser's only previous start against the A's came on June 1 last season, when he allowed four runs in seven innings of a 4-0 loss in Oakland.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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